Top 10 Biggest NBA Trash Talkers
At any level, whether it is a game of 21 at a local playground or the NBA Finals, trash-talking is a constant part of basketball. Trash-talking can revolve around any topic, starting from basic comments about a player’s physical and technical abilities to deeper offenses. While it often leads to regrettable episodes, some players have mastered this art to help them defeat their opponents. Let’s find out who are the greatest trash-talkers in NBA history!
Who Are the Biggest Trash-Talkers in the NBA?
- Larry Bird
- Michael Jordan
- Kevin Garnett
- Rasheed Wallace
- Gary Payton
- Reggie Miller
- Patrick Beverley
- Dennis Rodman
- Draymond Green
- Jimmy Butler
1. Larry Bird
Many players criticized him for his lack of athleticism and pace, but Larry Legend always answered on the court with all-time performance. While dominating the scene in the NBA, Bird never spared any trash-talking. Episodes like the 1988 NBA Three-Point Contest, when he made the point to win the competition without taking his warm-up jacket off as a sign of superiority over his opponents, make him the greatest trash-talker in the history of the league.
2. Michael Jordan
While trash-talking is not the secret to greatness, some of the greatest players to ever touch a basketball are also some of the biggest trash-talkers in NBA history. “His Airness” himself, Michael Jordan, was one of the greatest trash-talkers in the league in his times, without sparing anyone, including his teammates. One of MJ's best trash-talking moments came at the expense of Hall of Famer Reggie Miller, who had to hear Jordan calling himself “Black Jesus” after scoring 44 points on him.
3. Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett is the perfect example of a nasty defender that would get into his opponents’ minds by constantly chirping at them. “The Big Ticket” never missed a chance to fight his opponents by getting in their minds with some unfortunate comments. Some of his stories included starting a brawl with Carmelo Anthony after making a remark about his wife, making fun of Charlie Villanueva’s alopecia, or flipping off Joakim Noah after he told him that he idolized Garnett growing up.
4. Rasheed Wallace
Rasheed Wallace belongs to one of the toughest generations in the league and made his way to the league’s elite through grit and constant confrontation with his opponents. While playing in Detroit, Wallace was among the players involved in the infamous “Malice at the Palace,” a fight that broke out between the Pacers, the Pistons, and some fans in attendance. Sheed also holds the record for most technical fouls in a single season with 41, which shows how he never refrained from throwing words at opponents or officials.
5. Gary Payton
A member of the 2013 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, “The Glove” became one of the greatest defenders in the history of the game through tireless effort, and thanks to his ability to always get in his opponents’ heads. Some of Gary Payton’s best trash-talking moments came in his matchups against Michael Jordan, John Stockton, and Jason Kidd, one of his favorite victims in the league. At times, he would take on entire teams, as he did against the Trail Blazers, telling them that he could do anything he wanted against them.
6. Reggie Miller
Reggie Miller was not just one of the best shooters in the history of the game, but he was also a great trash-talker. Just like Rasheed Wallace, the UCLA graduate was among the players involved in the “Malice at the Palace," where he earned himself a one-game suspension. His greatest trash-talking moment came when he gave the choke sign to the Knicks, film director Spike Lee, and the entire Madison Square Garden crowd after scoring eight points in nine seconds to give the Pacers the win in Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals.
7. Patrick Beverley
Former Los Angeles Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley made a career for himself thanks to trash-talking. After spending four years in Europe, the Houston Rockets brought him back to the United States, where he quickly became one of the most aggressive defenders in the league. Over the years, Beverley has had feuds with players like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and Damian Lillard, while never missing a chance to chirp at rival Los Angeles Lakers during his five seasons with the Clippers.
8. Dennis Rodman
Just like Kevin Garnet and Gary Payton, Dennis Rodman was one of the fiercest defenders in NBA history, while also a master at trash-talking. He and Michael Jordan never missed a chance to confront their opponents or even to snipe at each other during training or when they used to be opponents. “The Worm” was an all-time great at getting in his opponents’ minds, and he showed it in the 1996 NBA Finals, when he got SuperSonics’ Frank Brickowski sent off by just staring at him.
9. Draymond Green
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green has established himself as one of the biggest villains in the contemporary NBA. Throughout his NBA career, Green has never been afraid to be aggressive on defense or with trash-talking, without sparing anyone, including his rival and great friend/idol, LeBron James, or Kevin Durant, even when they were teammates. Cleveland Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson was also one of Green’s main targets during the years that the two teams faced each other in the Finals.
10. Jimmy Butler
2015 NBA Most Improved Player of the Year Jimmy Butler closes out the top 10 of the biggest trash-talkers in NBA history. While trash-talking has always been a constant of his game, Butler started really turning on the heat when he was playing in Minnesota. His best trash-talking moments include yelling at the Wolves front office in training while beating the starters in a game of 21 where he was playing with the third-stringers, and his repeated fights with the Pacers’ TJ Warren as a member of the Heat.
- Charles Barkley
- Kobe Bryant
- Joel Embiid
- Allen Iverson
- Bill Laimbeer
- Charles Oakley
- Shaquille O’Neal
- Chuck Person
- Metta Sandiford-Artest
- Isaiah Thomas
Who is the biggest trash-talker in the NBA?
Larry “Legend” Bird is the greatest trash talker in the history of the NBA. The Indiana native dominated the league for over a decade while never missing a chance to laugh at his opponents. Among currently active players, Patrick Beverley is considered the biggest trash-talker in the league. His constant talking and fighting, including with the referees, have made many NBA players fall into his trap and underperform when playing against him.